May 7, 2011

Finding the Chris Hondros "Checkpoint Girl"

The NYT has found Samar Hassan. She’s the girl from slain Getty photographer Chris Hondos’ checkpoint photo, the image many consider the iconic image of the Iraq war. In this photo, Samar reportedly sees Chris’ photo of her for the first time, seven years later.

One question I have is: is this not just a little heavy-handed?

Strictly comparing the photos, however, that there are roses dotting the left-hand corner of the current photo matching the incredibly powerful rose-printed dress and all the blood splotches from the image seven years ago is just stunning. Putting on my shrink hat, it makes me think (and I’ve witnessed instances of this before) that perhaps Samar has retained a strong emotional, if unconscious link to what she was wearing the day her parents were murdered, so much so that she keeps roses around her house.  Her red dress and red nail polish (like little splatters) — also part of the parallel between the two photos — could be more coincidence, but could be part of  the emotional connection, too.

And then, who knows how far to take a such a thesis when you’re looking at a photograph, so great are the dangers of “reading in” … but take a look at the pattern in the couch, and the curtain, too!

Chris Hondros In Iraq

Here’s the link to the NYT story about finding Samar.

Here is the recent interview piece NYT reporter Ed Wong wrote for BagNews about the original photo-story in honor of Chris with a larger series of photos Hondros took at the checkpoint in Tal Afar that night.

(updated 10:12 am PST)

(photos: Ayman Oghanna for The New York Times; PHOTOGRAPH by CHRIS HONDROS / GETTY IMAGES caption 1: Samar Hassan, with a relative, had never seen the photo of her, below, taken after her parents were killed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq.)


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Michael Shaw
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